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Reader Comments & Questions

Notice: while we will respond to comments and questions posted on any web page, if you are commenting on or asking about a building or environment-related topic, it would be best to post your question (and find our reply) on the page that discusses your topic.

That will permit other readers and experts to find the question or comment and to offer on-topic assistance. If necessary try the search box above to find a relevant article on which to post your question or comment. Thanks - Editor.

Reader Question / Comment:

6/1/14 John said:

I am buying a Condo and Elevated mold levels (14000 aspergillus Pennicilum vs outdoors 600) have been detected by inspectors in two air tests. 2 Inspectors found No signs of visual mold, or any water in walls (thermal imaging), nothing under sinks, etc. There was a leak in to the bath ceiling 5 years ago and it was "caught and repaired immediately".

AC is new -- only 1 year old but has some mold growing in 3 places. Seller wants to clean the AC system and ducts, do 2 days of air scrubbing and then do an immediate air test to see if the problem is fixed.

I am having the Bath ceiling inspected by having holes drilled and scoped and if needed cutting 6"x6" area.

Question -- without major construction -- just AC and duct remediation and air scrubbing, do we need 24 hours after the air scrubbing -- or can the air test be done immediately? Will and immediate test pick up another source of mold (not AC) if it exists -- or do we need to ewait 24 hours after air scrub?



Not much of this sounds sensible to me.

If a severe mold problem was found and repaired five years ago you would not be detecting high levels of indoor Penicillium sp. spores today.

I suspect the problem was never found, OR there have been other leaks and there are other mold reservoirs that need to be found and removed. This case illustrates why mold "tests" alone, without a competent inspection are not so helpful. We just have to visit the investigation de novo, this time, finding where the problem resides.

Please see (and continue the discussion at )

on how to find hidden mold

or at

on making test cuts for mold. Scoping may not be adequate.

Reader Question / Comment:

5/30/14 Virginia said:

We have an old house built in the early 1900's while redoing the walls we found out trough guttering has been leaking into the walls, needless to say before we can continue on with our project we will now need to address the guttering issue I read in an article a person repaired their yankee roofing with a liquid membrane called EPDM Liquid Rubber and butyl tape in areas where needed would this method work to repair metal trough/integral guttering on our home? Thank you



I am not expert on the liquid applied coating solution; I'd worry about any coating's ability to withstand significant thermal movement in the gutter and its parts. If the gutter is sound you could give it a try; my approach has been to re-line the gutter with modified bitumen, EPDM (rarely), or copper (expensive).

Please see

where I will include your question and a more detailed reply

and keep me posted, or send along photos using our CONTACT link and I can comment further

Reader Question / Comment: trouble tracking down odors

5/30/14 Smr said:

Best info I have found on tracking down wacky smell in my daughters room. But still not sure where to begin, we bought house in December and painted first week we moved in, her room smells like pickles some days, onions on others and other weird rotting smells, we have cleaned, vacuumed, deodorized, there are no carpets, and still the smell.
We have an air filter running constantly and some days the odor is faint, but never gone.
Any thoughts? Ever heard of anything like this related to chalkboard wall paint which is what we used to paint accent wall.



Odors may be from a paint coating or something else.
Often a combination of keeping a data log (temperature, humidity, weather, sun, etc) combined with using a smell patch on surfaces can help pinpoint the odor source


Reader Question / Comment:

Sorry to the drain cleaner company who tried to post advertising links here - our security software and policy don't permit it. But we'd welcome content critique, suggestions, advice that are indeed credited and cited to contributors.

Reader Question / Comment: thanks for information on water pump pressure control switches & holding tanks

5/25/14 Tom in Baltimore said:

THANK YOU !!! Have long tried to fully understand water pressure switches/holding tanks & your info was concise & comprehensive. Thank you !! Hopefully I won't be wasting more $$ on premature pump wear.


Thanks for the nice note Tom, glad to help.

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 25, 2014) Anonymous said:

I have some old blue vinyl floor tiles (1962 house) which are 9.75 inches square. Is it possible that they could also contain asbestos? Looking through the lists on this site the dangerous tiles seem to be 9 inches square or 12 inches square. Thanks


You should treat the flooring you describe as "PACM" - presumed asbestos containing material

Reader Question / Comment: new water pressure tank is losing pressure but I don't see any leaks

(May 24, 2014) Gunther said:

Have just installed a new pressure tank and have no water leaks at any connection. Unfortunately, the pump's pressure gauge indicates a loss of water pressure while the storage tank is not showing any water loss.

I have shut off water to the house, inspected all connections and am unable to determine where the water goes. The pump cycles on at around 20 lbs, climbs to 42 lbs and shuts off normally but even without any water being used, sinks back to 20 lbs and comes on again

Am at the end of my wits because this did not happen with the old pressure tank whose bladder gave out after 20 years of life. Please tell me what other measures l can take - other than blaming the new Flotec tank - to stop the apparent leak. Thank you!



As we respect the first law of thermodynamics, if pressure in the water tank falls more than could be explained by a drop in temperature then there is a leak somewhere.

If the gauge is mounted where it should be showing tank pressure and is not then I suspect the gauge input port is debris clogged. Replace the gauge.

Or perhaps the gauge is ahead of a check valve keeping water in the tank. In that case look for a well piping leak or a bad foot valve.

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 20, 2014) Tiffany Virag said:

I need help identifying whether some material may contain asbestos prior to removing it, who can I send a photo to?


Tiffany, use the CONTACT link found at page bottom.


Reader Question / Comment: bad experience with ozone treatment for musty smell

(May 17, 2014) sandy said:

We also have had a very bad experience with use of Ozone generators. We purchased a new condo last May and from the time we did our walk thru we noticed a faint odor as we entered. The builder blew it off as construction odors. After two months we shipped clothing to our second home and noticed a musty smell on everything. We then noticed that our luggage and other personal belongings had also picked up an odor. We hired a company to do mold testing and they found no elevated mold spores.

The builder hired a remediation company to investigate the source of the odor. They did thermal imaging, checked air handlers and checked all plumbing and could not determine the source so they tried to get rid of the odor by putting two ozone generators in our home for 4 days! This altered the odor and significantly increased it.

Air testing after this showed high levels of VOCS in the house which we think was caused by the ozone oxidizing all the new carpet and furnishings in the home.

As recommended by and industrial hygienist we removed the carpet and all furnishings and tried 6 air purifiers with charcoal filters being changed every two days for a week and two weeks of a flush out process and the odor still remained. We determined that the odor had permeated into the drywall so we have just had all the drywall sealed with a special primer and two coats of paint applied and we're hoping that this is the final solution after 6 months of dealing with this mess.

My husband has been bothered with severe eye irritations which we also believe is the result of this ozone treatment. We now have to determine how much of our furniture can be salvaged. We've been told that it will continue to off gas. Do you think this is possible and do you have any suggestions for eliminating any remaining odors from mattresses, upholstered and leather pieces. This is all new furniture valued at about $40,000.


Regrettably the procedure you describe as used by your remediation company is packed with improper and ineffective methods, providing a compelling example of in my opinion incompetence that wasted everyone's time and your money. These include:

Thermal imaging to find mold: thermal imaging finds temperature differences, not mold. Water leaks that caused a hidden mold reservoir may not be present at the time of such scans so even tests for temperature differences ascribed to leaks cannot reliably find mold contamination. This approach is as useless as using a light meter to find energy loss in buildings.

Dosing a home with ozone to "get rid of mold-related odors" is ineffective and dangerous, because it does not find the mold (which may still produce toxic spores, harmful MVOCs), does not remove the mold, and does not find and fix the cause of mold growth in the building. Without those steps the problem of mold odors is likely to recur.

What the ozone generators for mold remediation do provide is an easy profit: just stop by and set up a machine and leave it running. More or less a "magic bullet" approach that's not a useful approach.

Overdosing with ozone can oxidize materials causing futher odor problems.


The solution at this point is

Find and remove the mold problem and fix its cause.

Identify and remove materials that were oxidized so as to produce noxious odors.

Clean and where necessary, possibly seal affected building surfaces that must remain in place.

This discussion and more details on how to proceed are at

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 16, 2014) Jon said:

I have an RV that was stored with many mothballs inside. Is it possible to remove the smell, and if so how? Everything was steam cleaned, then an ozone machine was used. About 85% of the mothball smell was removed, but some remains.


Sunlight and fresh air can help dissipate mothball odors, Jon. Are you sure that the odor that remains is that of mothballs? If an ozone machine is over-used it can oxidize materials leading to a lingering chemical-like odor that can be difficult to remove.


I ask because the strategy for odor removal depends on the odor source & cause.

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 12, 2014) Bb Gorman said:

having a filter dryer installed will I lose the refrigerant duing the installation.


BB Gorman

A filter drier on an HVAC system does not itself cause refrigerant loss, though if its intallation were faulty and leaks were present that'd be another matter. And on smaller HVACR systems the technician may need to adjust the refrigerant charge slightly to account for the volume of the drier.

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 12, 2014) Mike said:

I am on well water have been here for 4 years and my wife has recently had some intestinal issues ,mainly diarea, for about a month now and I wanted to test for anything that may cause her to have these issues, Can you advise what tests I should test for I know I have some nuicence iron bacteia, also can water be tested for Giardia,please advise,



at I've posted your question and our detailed reply. Please take a look and don't hesitate to ask further questions. Do keep me posted.

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 11, 2014) Si Otrad said:

I have fiber cement from Certainteed installed in March. There are many gaps to be observed. Could you provide a list of certified experts in Massachusetts that could assess the quality of the installation?



Certainteed and some other manufacturers provide a contractor certification program, though those fellows may also be in a position of conflicting interests. Try the "Experts Directory" list at the upper right of any of our pages, then look at home inspectors, give several a call in your area to ask about their experience and expertise with this issue.

See this article on fiber cement siding gaps

We didn't get a very warm reception when calling some of these manufacturers, so wear your hard hat.

Reader Question / Comment: comments on black algae

(May 10, 2014) Rebecca Vanderpool said:

In your articles concerning black algae you present that it is basically benign.

You neglect to take into consideration that one of the basic tasks of a roof is to reflect the sun. In the south this has lead to significantly raising cooling costs in some cases with a fully involved roof the costs have doubled. I only suggest that all variables should be considered and all pertinent information included in your info.


Rebecca, please see your comment and some discussion now at

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 1, 2014) Anonymous said:

can I get any info regarding Dura Slate roofing system. I need to find out whether it is a class 4 roofing system or not.




After reading or saving your copy, if you click in that copy you'll return to slate roof information at InspectApedia

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 27, 2014) Don MacIntyre said:

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology,
Edmonton, Alberta
We are developing content for an alternative energy technologist course and would like to ask for permission to use the above mentioned image in the lesson materials, printed in handouts and powerpoint and pdf hosted on our university website, password protected access restricted to registered students and immediate faculty only.
Please reply to
Don MacIntyre


Don I'm sure we can fin a way to accomodate what you need, though I cannot give permission for that specific image as we use it here with permission from Carson Dunlop Associates. They are a Toronto Ontario education and home inspection firm. Please use our CONTACT link to send your request, OR Contact Alan Carson (give him the same image link) at

Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides:

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 26, 2014) thomas gran said:

Submersible well pump cycles on at 20psi off at 50psi, but took 17 minutes to go from 20 to 50. Is this normal and if not what could the problem be? Does this indicate a weak pump? Or a part that maybe going?



The time required to pump up from 20 to 50 psi will vary depending on a number of variables:

- the pump discharge capacity or rate
- the well recovery rate
- whether or not the pump impeller is damaged
- low voltage or normal
- a valve partly clogged
- a leak in the well piping anywhere in route
- the size of the water tank being filled

But if this represents a significant change from how long it used to take to fill the same tank
if you're sure no water was running anywhere in the building, I'd look further for the problem.

Reader Question / Comment: can I hire you?

(Apr 22, 2014) Mary Knab said:

My 90 yr old mother in law had her ooutside central air unit replaced 6 mos ago at a cost of 4K. At that time she had her inside air handler unit inspected and she was told it was fine. Now, after a routine inspection, a different company told her the air handler unit is bad and replaced it a a cost of 4K. They did not replace it with a York product, which was what she had, stating that the York product was too big.

They installed an ADP product. Now she thinks she is being swindled and refuses to pay the second 4K AAnd wants us to find out if the ADP product is similar in quality and cost to the York and why her air handler would go bad in 6 mos, during the winter, when it was rarely used?

Can you help me with some knowledge so I can explain it to her? Thank you.



Installed HVAC equipment prices will of course vary by geographic area. But if you make a note of not just the brand but the model number of the HVAC air handler that was replaced (that'll give some capacity information) you can at least find the raw equipment price.

I can't comment on the need to replace the indoor air handler - as we've no information about what was wrong.

Thank you for your interest in my services, but with respect and polite regrets, I'm unable to serve you. After decades of field investigation and forensic lab work, I have retired from field work to concentrate full time on pure research, a little pro-bono work, and writing for

Building Inspector referrals:

Perhaps you can find a suitable expert by discussing your needs with some of the professionals listed in directories found at

Environmental Test Lab referrals from Daniel Friedman
For environmental or forensic investigative support and lab work, you can use any forensic lab provided you first check that their area of expertise matches your needs.

For strange particle analysis, building dust analysis, fiberglass particle screening, mold contaminant screening contact these expert forensic microscopists

Daniel Baxter ( or

Larry Wayne (

For mold or general environmental dust samples also contact our backup

Susan Flappan
11020 W. 122nd St.
Overland Park KS 66213
913 322 2237. toll free number of 866 225 MOLD

EMS lab is a very large and competent network of labs offering a wide range of services is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information for the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 22, 2014) Maureen said:

We live in the Chandler, Phoenix, Az. area. Where can we send dust samples from our home to be analyzed. We have had many sources to our home. We get vague results.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 12, 2014) Chuck H. said:

Our water pressure tank is 15 years old. We have a very high calcium level. We have to clean the water heater every other year and get about 30lbs. of calcium out. Now we are losing cold water pressure almost like rapid cycling at the pump, but there is about five minutes between pressure losses.

When the pressure comes back there is a surge of cold. Could our pressure tank be filled with calcium? or a different problem?


Chuck that's a huge amount of scale to take out of a water heater every yeaer.

Seems to me you want a water treatment system to remove high levels of calcium before heating the water. That scale may also have clogged something else, a water filter, valve, pipe, that prevents the water supply system from properly sensing pressure.

While calcium precipitates much faster out of hot water than cold, at those very high levels you cite, I wouldn't rule out Ca scaling anywhere in the system, including the pressure tank or its controls.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 11, 2014) Tom Mc said:

I have remodeled the bathroom and installed all new drain and supply lines for the new tub/shower. When the water is turned on muddy water comes out but goes clear after a few seconds. This fixture is the only place where this happens. Anyone have a clue? I'm baffled.


Tom, are there galvanized iron pipes in the supply?

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 8, 2014) John Fasig said:

My well water system is pulsating when either hot or cold water is turned on. I went under house where Tank is installed. the pressure control valve was clicking on and off rapidly when water was turned on. Water pressure gage stayed steady at 40psi. It also stayed at 40 with water on and off. Do you think this indicates a bad pressure gage of faulty check valve?


John, please see the water pump short cycling diagnosis & repair instructions beginning at

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 8, 2014) Anonymous said:

We have a condition on a commercial job the ceiling is very tight with limited space. We have a hvac control box with 120v,a transformer, some solenoids and a control board in it. We can only get 18" clearance in front of it, is that ok? this control box is 24"Wx12"H has no hinge just two screws and access panel drops down.


Anon, the question of whether or not the contractor can alone decide to change the required working access space for HVAC controls is beyond my expertise; to avoid a future liability, practical problems in service, or an issue with the local building department and thus ultimately your customer,

I'd suggest taking the question first to the HVAC equipment manufacturer (who care if the equipment can't be properly accessed, controlled, maintained, and then to the local building department for a written reply.

Keep us posted, or send along (by our CONTACT link) photos, sketches, details and we may be able to comment further.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 7, 2014) Becky said:

My question is this: Are hairline cracks (with water staining) that are in line with the mortar in a cinderblock wall in a basement considered evidence of "STRUCTURAL COMPROMISE"? Here's why I ask:

1. From 2002 when my husband bought the house to Feb 2014, we had NO water in the basement (80 yr old house w/ French drain and sump pump).

2. In early Feb 2014, our tenant informed us of a small amount of water coming in through these hairline cracks and sent the picture. He cleaned it up and the water never returned...

3. When we were preparing the house for sale, I had two contractors look at the the water-stained cracks, along with several other items to be addressed -- both said the cracks (now bone-dry, in a bone-dry basement) were "not a big deal" and could be readily addressed with caulking, priming, painting (actually only one mentioned caulking) -- which I've learned is regarded as routine maintenance.

4. The same day the contractor came to work in the basement, I had another service person cleaning windows -- his assistant was power-washing the exterior of the house. Although I had asked them to avoid that side of the house where the cracks were until we were sure what was going on (the one contractor was concerned about the window above the cracks, turned out not to be a problem),

(A) the seal was not secure between the faucet and hose to the power-washer (spraying water in all directions),

(B) the faucet was about 1.5' from the window/wall in question, and

(C) the power-washer seemed to be going at it full-force 6 hours+ -- a 1100 sq foot house.

(I've since learned this should have taken about 1.5 hours, also that it's not the best idea to do it when the ground is frozen -- we live in Maryland, where we've been hit with a lot of very cold weather, snow, etc.) I called a waterproofing company (with GREAT reviews, A+ BBB rating) who said immediate cause of the damage was the sudden, rapid influx of HUGE amount of water. They also updated our drainage system. Never mentioned structural compromise in that wall.



"Structural compromise" is an undefined term.

A structural engineer will typically aver that masonry structures are not supposed to crack, and that any crack is a "failure". But an experienced foundation engineer, mason, or someone with similar expertise will usually make a distinction between cracks and movement that are an urgent threat to the structure, those that need monitorinbg, and those that need prompt repair to prevent a catastrophe.

And no such prescription would ge coplete without understanding the cause.

It is possible that water under, against, and around a foundation combined with freezing would cause cracks; but just "cracks" is far too vague to reach such a conclusion. The size, shape, location, pattern, and site history and other factors need to be understood before one can ascribe a cause to a masonry crack.


which is where this conversation should better be conducted.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 3, 2014) Joe said:

Okay, I just realized that I mistakenly put the subject where my name should be. Many apologies. I also just did some more research and have realized that what I have found are most likely termite mud tubes. I'll report this to my landlord.

This is really a great site. Thank you for providing this information.

Hello, My name is Joe. I recently discovered something growing up the wall of my "basement". I originally thought it was some type of mold or fungus so I sprayed it with a 10% bleach solution. (I'm now aware that that may not be the best way to deal with mold.) It immediately fell off the wall and I wiped it up.

Within hours, it had emerged from behind the baseboard and started growing up the wall again. I also noticed that it was growing underneath and on the back of a small wine refrigerator located there. With more light, I can now see that it's brown, and looks more like mud, so I think it may be caused by insect activity. I can send photo's if you would like.

The room in question is not a true basement. The structure is a townhouse built on a hillside.

The room is below grade on the back of the structure, and has always had moisture problems. The moisture is aggravated by leaking spa equipment on the patio above. FYI, I am a renter and I'm not able to immediately deal with the spa issue. If I could, I'd drain it right now.
Thank's, Joe


OK Mold, fungus or insect, putting the subject instead of a name is a great idea - shows up in bold on the page. Let's keep it in the routine.

A fungus that reappears literally in hours of any cleaning job is pretty unusual, though indeed some fungii can grow quite rapidly in the forest and can appear in wet buildings in 24-48 hours. The key is not the killing - which can leave harmful material even if you really could kill it all (you generally can't without destroying the surface materials).

Rather the key is to remove the mold and correct the cause of its growth - which usually means finding and fixing the leak.

I DO NOT like the following suggestion but in desperate cases where we cannot promptly remove the mold from the home nor the person from the moldy home we might try containment of the moldy area (plastic, negative air) to reduce the hazards.

Take a look at

Reader Question / Comment:

(Apr 2, 2014) Pamela Haines said:

Hi there,

Do you know of anyone in the Toronto region that has any knowledge of roof science and insulation ? I have had a heck of a time trying to solve the mystery of having intense condensation in a low moisture environment drip down my drywall from my skylights (that are in a cathedral ceiling). Pls. let me know...I can be reached at 416-425-0008 or


Pam Haines


Pamela, in Toronto you might want to contact our friends and associates Carson Dunlop Associates - an engineering and home inspection firm with broad building knowledge that might be useful in diagnosing the problem you've described.

Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Daniel Friedman

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 29, 2014) Miles said:

Can you recommend an "ideal" (i.e. not necessarily to code) cathedral ceiling insulation air/vapor barrier strategy for R-value zone 3? Heat and humidity are the primary climate considerations. The ceiling would have exposed timber rafters with exposed ceiling boards on top of them.

Thinking of either a site-built SIP style "roof over" or felt and bats between 2x6 rafters on top of ceiling boards.

I can get away with R-22 for cathedral ceilings here.

Your information here was helpful but my exposed ceiling boards seem to throw a curve into the mix. Thanks in advance!


Miles, using poly on warm moist side is normal; I'm not sure what would be more ideal. But key to avoid moisture leaks into the ceiling or roof cavity is sealing any penetrations. Where outside heat is a concern you might think about a reflective barrier. I like SIPs if they fit the cost plan.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 26, 2014) Sonya Chadderdon said:

I work in an old school and am concerned about the tiles on the floor. The previous owner of the building told us that the tiles were made with asbestos and they look similar to the Sears tiles.

We do experience heavy traffic throuout the school. My biggest concern is our break room, which is also someone's office, because many of the tiles are broken

I am a cancer survivor and currently have Lupus so my immune system is already compromised. Is this something that I should be worried about? Thank you for any information that you can provide.



Please take a look at


to see common steps taken to reduce risk for asbestos-containing flooring. Typically the floor is painted, coated, or floored-over if there is risk of particle release. Removing it would be a greater risk.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 23, 2014) cass said:

Great site!
Just wanted to let you know, the math on the home heating oil is slightly inconsistent.

"Here is an example using some sample numbers:
MPH = 15 minutes per hour that the oil burner is actually firing (from observation)"

Here you jump from 15m/hour to 30min/hour...

30 (minutes of "burner on time" per hour) x 24 (hours in a day) = 720 minutes of burner on time per day

GPD = 1 (GPH) x (720 (burner on time per day) / 60 (minutes per hour)) = 12 gallons of oil used per day.

Now you put 6 gal / day, but calculate on 12 gal per day...

100 G (gallons of oil in the tank) / 6 (gallons of oil used per day) = 8 days of heating oil supply remaining"

I was confused by this for a bit, until I realized this.

Thanks again for putting this out there!


Thanks Cass, I have posted the correction on our heating oil usage rate page at the link you provided. We appreciate your careful reading and editing assistance.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 18, 2014) Georgia G. said:

We bought from a garage sale some boxes of place 'n press vinyl floor tile Armstrong Excelon pattern 27221. We looked for the tiles in your listing and found a picture that matched our tiles from 1973: Armstrong Custom Glenmore Brick #57131. Can you tell me anything about our tiles #27221? Thank you.


Please use our CONTACT link (page top or bottom) to send me some sharp photos of the floor tile, the floor tile back, and all sides of the packaging and I'll research and comment further.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 15, 2014) Anonymous said:

I had a garage built in 2011. The foundation was poured all in one. (Footings and floor) The first year I had a problem with water standing in a pool on the floor where I park my car. Of course I tried to keep it dry, but snowy car in winter makes it impossible.

Two years later, I discovered a crack in the floor that runs from the center of the 16 foot garage door down the center of the floor. A few months later a crack appeared at the corner of the garage at an angle in front of where I park. Recently, a new crack appeared directly behind where I park.

It starts at the wall and is working it's way to the center of the floor. The contractor claims that it is frost heave. But the garage is supposed to be higher than the ally, and there is a snow bank against that outside wall all winter. I've been told that can help insulate the ground and prevent frost damage.

Can frost penetrate through the cement floor? The ground was very dry when they poured it. Is it normal for water to run through the block when it rains out?

And would that be able to get under the slab to freeze? The water runs in random patterns toward the area where my car is parked. This looks more like a sinking slab to me. How can I tell the difference?

My husband is a TBI victim, and so I'm on my own. I have some common knowledge of cement work, but this is over my head. I read your article, but it addresses more heated and floating slabs. Can you give me some ideas how to prove what the cause is? And what is the industry approved procedure for preparing the site for cement? (I live in Duluth, MN) Thank you for your help. Sincerely, Nancy


ANON: I agree that you are asking reasonable questions; you need an onsite expert who can examine the existing structure, roof and site drainage, soil conditions, original plans, footing depth, etc.

There are industry standards for soil compaction and other site work before placing concrete, including provision of drainage; but if building or surface runoff are ponding around a building those may overcome many monolithic slab designs.

Reader comments:

Thank you for your reply. Can you tell me if frost can penetrate through the middle of the slab? Also, when the garage was built there was no ponding around the foundation. I had a walkway poured next to the ally where the snow bank sits all winter. I make sure that the snow is removed when we get the spring meltdown. T

he leaking through the block has been happening right from the beginning every time it rains. I haven't been able to find an onsite expert in my town. Can you tell me how to find one?

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 13, 2014) Final response..... said:

Miracle of miracles I found it in Armstrong's archives of discontinued products most of which have no images anymore but had mine on an empty page:
Discontinued: Vernay Series Englewood - Oak

Feel free to use the image in my image on your site if he helps id this pattern for anyone or is of some use.
Thanks again.


I've moved this discussion of the identification of Armstrong Vernay Series floor tiles to

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 12, 2014) Carol said:

I just bought a cottage with an old hydronic boiler (forced hot water baseboard heat) which also heats the domestic hot water. During the summer the boiler room gets incredibly hot, since the boiler cycles on to heat the domestic hot water. It also uses lots of oil, even when I'm not there.

I am considering removing the domestic water from this boiler, adding a tankless propane hot water heater and eventually replacing the boiler with a propane hydronic boiler. But several HVAC contractors have recommended converting to a propane hydronic boiler which also heats the domestic hot water. They say this is more efficient than my existing unit, but I have been unable to get specifics on how this would work.

For example, does the boiler include a domestic hot water tank, which would require the boiler to keep cycling on and off even when I'm not using it? I don't want to replace the system and end up with the same problem I currently have!

Finally, this cottage is located in Northern Mass and has cold winter temperatures. I use it about half of each week and I want to conserve fuel when I'm not there. Since there are only 2 of us and we don't have a washer or dishwasher, we don't use much hot water. Also, being able to easily drain the water supply is essential for my peace of mind! I may also add a back-up generator, so propane would be handy for this. What would you suggest?



I appreciate the concerns you express but I'm doubtful that the savings from conversion of the entire heating system would be earned back in less than 15-20 years of the usage you describe.

When a heating system is not calling for heat, the boiler will keep hot water in the boiler itself in case someone is going to run hot water at a sink or faucet.

But in that mode the boiler is ONLY heating up the water in the boiler itself, not in its zone piping, radiators, baseboards, etc. The standby losses and fuel to just heat the boiler to provide for the tankless coil should be very small, and would be even less if you set the aquastat control properly.

In summer months when the cottage is not in use you could opt to simply turn off the boiler on leaving if you want to reduce fuel use to zero.

In winter, set the heat down to a safe but low setting if you are leaving heat-on when the cottage is empty;

You can find our recommended aquastat settings at InspectApedia by searching InspectApedia for

"Best Aquastat Settings"

We also have extensive guidance on winterizing a building with heat on or heat off if you wish to make use of that data.

Reader Question / Comment: Amazing Website Kudos

(Mar 6, 2014) Matthew Michalowski said:

Your site is amazing. As a GC I'm required to know everything, and while I pride myself on knowing volumes of building information, I just can't know it all...this site has helped me in hundreds of situations, and while you may not answer all my questions, I certainly learn something every time I go to it. Thank you.


Thanks so much Matthew; you hit the nail on the head - in that the more we research and publish the more apparent is the endless depth of information - nobody knows it all and together we're smarter than any individual.

My carpentry mentor told me how his supervisor used to sneak around the corner and cut out a pattern rafter, then telling him "Bernie, make me 39 more of these!" Job security. Bah. More like perpetuating snafus.

Don't hesitate to ask if you can't find what you need or to speak out if you see something that doesn't look right. All help and critique are really appreciated.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 5, 2014) Diane said:

Hi, I posted a comment in February about mold on the carpet in a rental house I'm living in in UK. (I moved back here from USA). You recommended I read advice for Renters etc. I know this is a USA site - do you know a reputable Company in the UK that I can call on to tale a look at this ?

As I mentioned before, the rental property company sent a supposed "mold expert" who just did a visual inspection and said it's just mildew and I know that is absolutely not true

. Any UK companies you can recommend who know about mold I would appreciate it if you could let me know ASAP. I have had to get my dogs out of this rental as one of them has just become too sick to live in here anymore. Thanks, Diane Virmani


Although InspectAPedia is hosted at a U.S. service we are international in scope with many UK readers. Our directory of mold and environmental consultants includes some in the UK. But indeed you will most likely be best served by someone local to your address. Unfortunately as well, too many mold consultants are poorly informed as is the one you cite.

Mildew is an obligate parasitic mold that only grows on living plants. So it won't be found on nor in a building except perhaps on a houseplant. An ill informed opinion like the one you quote is sufficient to demonstrate that the consultant is not well qualified.

You are welcome to print this note along with our mold advice to tenants and to property owners and to share it with your landlord.

If other specific questions arise don't hesitate to ask, though best I'df you ask on a related topic page.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 5, 2014) Anonymous said:

We have a project which has a steel truss roof system with a structural metal deck diaphragm (B deck type for seismic requirements)installed over the steel trusses.

We want to provide a standing seam roof over the structural metal deck. Slope is 3:12 and the attic is a cold attic. Do we have to provide any underlayment between the structural deck and the standing seam roof?

Or can we just install the standing seam roofing directly over the structural deck. (The structural deck grooves are running perpendicular to the slop of the roof). Any assistance for the best installation procedures will be appreciated. You can reply to this e-mail:

Thank you,

James R.


Please search InspectApedia for

Standing Seam Metal Roof Systems

in that article we re-posted your question along with example underlayment specifications from some metal roofing manufacturers.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 3, 2014) James said:

Venting of Cathedral Ceiling: I just finished a second floor addition with a cathedral ceiling in Southern California. The roof assembly consists of a dropped and exposed steel ridge beam with 2X10 rafters which sit on top of a nailer attached to the top of the steel beam. The bottom of the rafters have 5/8" gypboard, batt insulation is flush with the bottom of the rafters touching the back of the drywall.

There is a 2" air space above the insulation to the bottom of 5/8" roof sheathing. Each bay has a vent at the eave and each bay has ventilation slots at the ridge with a continuous ridge vent above and composition shingles above.

On days which start out moist outside and heat up as the day goes on, droplets of condensation forms at the top of the exposed steel ridge beam only on the south facing side. I first noticed it opposite a skylight, where i assumed a rafter bay may have been blocked by the skylight head out, but i have also noticed it where i am sure there is no obstruction. I thought i had taken all precautions. Any thoughts on the cause and/or remedy? Thanks


James I may not have this right, but if the exposed steel beam is exposed inside the home and is cool - say from contact with the rest of the roof, and if you're seeing moisture on the exposed surface, we're not in the cathedral venting system at all, right? Sorry to be obtuse. I suspect we have thermal contact somewhere but I dunno. I think I need a sketch or a photo.

Reader continues:

Correct, the steel beam is below the roof rafter assembly. The entire steel beam is exposed, top and bottom flange. The finished drywall ceiling flushes out with the top flange of the steel. Above the steel beam is a 3X nailer which the rafters are bird mouthed to and a row of 2X vertical blocking is on top of the 3X nailer, between the rafters. The ventilation slots are cut into each rafter bay on both sides of the 2X vertical block. The space is not occupied yet, so there is no heat or air conditioning working and not all the doors are sealed. I am suspecting that in the evening and mornings, the interior space is basically the same temperature as the exterior. So as the day goes on, when the exterior temperature starts to warm up, the interior space stays cool (because of the insulation) and the steel beam is the conduit for condensation to form, which is at the high point of the roof. I have tried talking with the local building inspectors, but they do not have a clue.


OK James.

I am not confident I've got it exactly right but it sounds as if the thermal conductivity between the steel ridge beam and the exterior is greater than that of the ceiling itself (which is insulated). You've got steel against a 2x nailer on which sit rafters. Above the nailer between the rafters, then is air space opening to a ridge vent (unless insulation in the ceiling extended over the nailer and against the ridge board).

If you don't need to keep the steel exposed I'd suggest wrapping it in solid Hi-R foam, enclosing that with drywall or better (aesthetically) wood 1x boards.

In my InspectApedia lab we've left a glulam beam exposed below the roof but ran wood I trusses atop that beam and insulated continuously specifically to avoid this insulation gap - well not only for that reason. But in that (taller-roof) design there is a thermal break between beam top and cold roof space.

Bottom line: we like a cold drafty roof space for longer roof life and avoiding moisture in the roof cavity. Listubrek is a hot roof fan but his alternative design presumes that construction is perfect and that nothing ever happens to cause a leak into the closed hot roof cavity.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 27, 2014) Rebecca Sikes said:

Our furnace run fine until the lock out came on. we had a service man come and he put a new oil nozzle in.

When we turn on furnace a hazy smoke filled the house, and there was an odor. We awoke and turned off, when we
blew noses we had black mucus come out. Could you help in letting us know maybe what causes this.


Rebecca, I can't know accurately what's going on from just a snippet of information, but it sounds as if the oil burner is not working properly; I'd call the service manager, tell them what's going on and ask for an experienced service tech to sort things out.

Meanwhile leave the system off: the symptoms you describe risk a messy and sometimes dangerous PUFFBACK (you can read about oil burner puffback symptoms at InspectApedia)

When the "lock came on" I presume you mean the system shut down on a safety reset function, the service tech did a standard attempt: change the nozzle thinking that the system is running dirty - the flame sensor sees that and shuts it off.

But when you have odors and smoke after that effort it's clear that there is another operating problem at the unit - an air leak, draft problem, fuel problem, etc.

Keep us posted; what you learn will help others.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 21, 2014) Diane said:

Hi, after living in USA 24 years I'm back in UK. I moved into a rented house 5 months ago. I have a compromised immune system, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, allergies to dust, dust mites & mold. Living in this house for 5 months my symptoms R worse (more headaches, double vision, sinus congestion). I have 3 dogs & they have been very lethargic, twitching in their sleep; one has hair loss, another is biting her paws.

A more serious condition has developed in one dog who has got black scabs around his mouth & nose which R spreading to his ears. Vet has treated him with 2 courses antibiotics & a course of steroids & his condition is worse.

He has developed a lump on his belly, currently is benign. The prior rental I lived in didn't cause any problems. This current house has 4 unused fireplaces, uncleaned chimneys & I noticed random black stains around various edges of the carpet.

most concerning is when I moved in I was sleeping in the spare bedroom & noticed at some point in the past there had been a water leak from a radiator. The carpet is black in this area, on top & underneath. wood floorboards underneath carpet R completely rotted & crumbled. Sleeping in that room for 1 month I was so dizzy & had sensations I was going to pass out.

Another room, rubber underlay under carpet is black/ sticky near an outside wall. I immediately reported this to rental manager who sent a supposed "mold expert" to house. He ONLY visually looked & said it's just mildew; I can see just looking at carpet its mold.

Landlady has refused to do anything; she said I can spray it with anti-fungal spray at my cost but I'm NOT allowed to remove or touch carpet. I feel mold is toxic, house is 180 years old, with bulges in walls. What should I do? I'm sicker, my dogs R sick, (despite closing door to room with MOLD on carpet). soot is falling from uncleaned chimneys daily. Who should I call & what tests need to be done to prove this is MOLD & has caused me & my dogs to get very sick? I cant move-yet house seems Toxic?



You can find our best advice to tenants facing a mold problem by searching InspectApdia for

Indoor Mold or Other Hazards: Advice to Renters

You may want to read our warnings about carpet mold. The bottom line is that for wall to wall carpeting that is moldy, the carpet most likely needs to be thrown out along with its padding, the floor cleaned, other mold reservoirs removed from the building, and the cause of mold growth found and fixed.

Without those steps no amount of magic-bullet-spray is going to solve the problem.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 19, 2014) teri said:

almost 2 years ago i had the drain line below my bathroom lined with CIPP. ever since that time i have had a moisture problem in my bathroom. after showering in the morning, i hang my towel on the rack, come home after working 8 hours and the towel is still damp.

my toilet tissue is always 'damp' feeling and lots and lots of mildew, which i never had prior. there is no exhaust fan, but there never has been, there is a window and this house was built in 1950.

could it be possible, when the plumber performed the CIPP that he blocked off the vent pipe that leads from the sewer line thru the roof? my paint is peeling off my walls in the bathroom on the wall that the shower toilet and sink are on. help !




please search InspectApedia for and read the article

Moisture Problems in buildings: Causes & Cures

where I will move this conversation

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 19, 2014) Karen said:

I found all of your articles to be very professional, forthright, and informative. I have been experiencing some air quality problems in my home. To the extent that I have developed a severe allergic reaction every time the heat or air condition is on. We had a mold inspection and testing done and the results were negative.

Although this was good news the problem persists. I've also discovered black soot on the glass surfaces, an unusually extreme amount of black fiber like particles on surfaces, along with a cottony like dust on services as we'll. in addition, the filters in the air condition/heating unit gets very dirty with a dark gray / black substance within a weeks time. Theses are the high grade expensive type filters that should last for a minimum of 90 days. I am at my wits end and don't know what to do next!


Karen I've moved this discussion to

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 17, 2014) Anonymous said:

i wanna know where or what is the handle i need to turn to add water to my gas heater


Anon, with no information about what kind of equipment you have installed, I am guessing you may be talking about a steam boiler that needs make-up water: search InspectApedia for

Guide to Water Feeder Valves on Steam Heating Boilers

to read that information.

Or search InspectApedia for "water feeder valves" for some photo examples.

Exactly where a manual water feeder valve is located varies among installations, but you can almost always find it by following the cold water pipe that brings water to the boiler.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 17, 2014) Marc Stewart said:

My home has polybutyl piping in the hydronic furnace system. (Potable is plumbed with copper.) I am interested in outfitting my home now with soft water. Might it be a problem to supply soft water to the furnace system? Soft water does not have anything to do with chlorine that is known to cause problems with PB piping, but I'm not a chemist! Thank you.
Marc Stewart


Marc, using softened water provided by a normally-functioning water softener not harm PB piping nor the heater, and has nothing to do with chlorine; Chlorine content in water can be a problem for some plastic piping systems, particularly some pipe connectors - as you can read by searching InspectApedia for

Plastic Water Piping Leak Causes & Symptoms

Reader Question / Comment: where do I get the free encyclopedia?

(Feb 16, 2014) Anonymous said:

I want the Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair.

Will you mail or send me a pdf file? My email is


You've got it right here, online, Anonymous. Just use the search box found immediately above. There is no cost to you for accessing information at InspectApedia. And we welcome questions, content suggestions, or corrections as long as discourse is polite.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 13, 2014) Question - Honeywell Aquastat Control Replacement said:

Hi Just wondering if I'm about to get ripped off or should i tell this person not to do the work. I have a 1800 sq foot 2 story house and the farthest bedroom on first floor (2 outside walls) away from the furnace in the basement (consistently freezing cold outside) has been much colder than the rest of the house (tenants keep heat at 75 and this room hovers around 64-68)

It's a gas furnace - He told me its a Peerless Boiler and he is factory authorized dealer and the date on the boiler is May 2012. I have hot water radiator heat.

This new heating guy says the one year old Aquastat Control needs to be replaced - that it is a part failure unrelated to the workmanship of the previous contractor who did the work last year (i switched from Oil to Gas).

That if he repalces the control that there is a 70% chance that this will solve the coldness problem in the back bedroom will get warm. If the whole rest of the house has been warm without any problem - is this really the problem, wouldn't the rest of the house be cold too? He wants to charge me $535 for the control 4 hours of labor at $65 an hour.

Now - its 2 days later, the room is still cold and now he's saying the baseboard heaters were installed wrong and need to be 'reworked' for $450. That they are upside down and this is why the room isn't warm (same original contractor who put in the new furnace put in these baseboards in last year).

I called the original contractor (wish i brought him over this time to begin with) but I'm working with a property manager now). He says that what this guy is saying is not true - that they were put in correctly. It was me who decided to use a 4' shorter length on one of the walls and this could be the issue, but why then did this new guy have to replace the control for $795. Do they really cost $535 or is that way high? Thank you for any help or advice anyone can provide. -Paula



Darn. I can't make sense out of the explanation given by your service tech. The aquastat turns the boiler on and off, and may control one circulator. I can't see how it knows one room of the home from another. The tech may be honest but a lousy communicator, but from just the information in your note, I don't get it.

Upside down baseboards? That would be a stunning mistake. And visually obvious. Search InspectApedia for

Baseboard heat

and take a look at our top article on that heating method - you'll see photos of normal baseboard installations.

I'll invite other reader comments by moving this Q&A to that article where I can provide some additional details, comments, links.

USe the CONTACT link at our page top or bottom to send me some photos of your baseboards and we can comment further.

Reader Question / Comment:

Feb 12, 2014) nikolena said:

we have a leak somewhere as we are using twice the water but no spraying water or wet ground. We have no hot water flow in shower or kitchen sink and no cold water in kitchen sink but esle where is fine. Where do i look? Our city says under ground but wouldnt we not have water at all?


Look in the well casing itself, and consider that the well piping may be leaking between well and building; You can have a leak in delivery piping that loses water without losing ALL water pressure.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 5, 2014) Anonymous said:

I have a well pump which cycles on & off frequently(every few months). I have been replacing the pressure switch and float valve to correct. Today when it started cycling - I checked for ants in the pressure switch & turned off power to the tank. I drained tank and took off the pressure relief valve to facilitate draining, but after all water was out of tank I still had 20 pounds of pressure.

Will I have to replace pressure switch and float valve again? Just replaced them a couple of months ago

Reader Question / Comment:

RE-posting ALICK's remarks editing typos that looked like hyper links
I am thinking of having solar panels installed on my roof and the installer noticed a slight whiteness on one of my roof purlins. It looks to be just on the surface but he thought( although he said he is no expert) I would need a structural survey to check it before he fits panels. It just looks like a dusting of flour to me but is it likely to be serious? I cannot see the whole roof as most of it is boarded.I can send you a picture if that helps. Many thanks Alick


This sounds a bit extreme, Alick. While I agree that mold on wood can signify the presence of wood rot, even a casual inspection (no visible rot, cracks, sags, displacement) combined with the simple probing that a home inspector or pest inspector would perform would tell you if the wood was visibly rotted and damaged.

Sure, you can use the CONTACT link at page top or bottom to send us a photo.

But an onsite decision with some common sense is what's needed.

This may be another case of OPM that we frequently describe at InspectApedia - trouble balancing true risk for the client with risk for the consultant who is afraid the client will be mad later (or sue) - so the consultant advises steps that will be paid for by the client but that have the principal benefit of reducing the consultant's risk - "Other People's Money"

But then, let's see if an onsite probe can find damage or not.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 30, 2014) Heather said:

I have a boiler for heat in my home with two circulator pumps that supply two different zones (upstairs and downstairs). My circulator pump for the first floor went bad and was replaced, fixing the problem. An hour later, a radiator upstairs (different zone) exploded and a 6 inch piece of metal was cast from the radiator causing water to flood the house.

This happened in a different zone connected to the other pump from the same boiler. Could the exploded radiator in the other zone could have been affected by the replacement of the circulator pump to the other zone?


Heather at our heating systems home page where you also posted this question I expressed my OPINION that this looks like a dangerous situation - possibly a relief valve or boiler operating pressure problem that deserves immediate expert attention, as any explosion in a hot water system is potentially very serious - possibly very destructive, even fatal.

Go back to our heating home page and you can read my reply in more detail in both the page bottom comments and in an expanded version in the bottom of the FAQs section at that page.

Search InspectApedia for

Heating System Inspect, Diagnose, Repair

to find the home page where these comments are made, or click on the HEATING link in the top banner of any InspectApedia page

Send along photos and details and I may be able to comment further - but your first priority is to be safe.

Reader Question / Comment: help with appliance troubleshooting

(Jan 26, 2014) Anonymous said:

There is no about appliance troubleshooting?



Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 26, 2014) Roberto said:

"MAKING ELECTRONIC COPIES OF our WEBSITE CONTENTS (such as copying our pages, content from our pages, or our graphics to another website or into email) IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED - this website is © protected material, all rights reserved."
Surely, by putting information on the web it becomes in the public domain and therefore the above statement is invalid?


Not at all Roberto. Theft is theft anywhere, and copyright law regarding electronic publishing is well established, court tested, and clear as well.

Not only is a claim that all information is free for the copying wherever you like a self serving remark, it is also self defeating - if you find that other people's research is useful or helps you out of a jam, surely you can understand that if by stealing their labor ultimately you put them out of business, which means no morenhelp for you either.

Electronic copying without permission takes without permission the work of others, takes reader traffic, takes income that supported the effort in the first place, and is also a violation of the law.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 23, 2014) Edward said:

In this extremely cold weather i noticed my windows have moisture forming at the bottom of the glass which then freezes in a little bead..The windows are double hung /double glass type..Is it possible my humidifier is set to high or do i have a window problem
Recent temperature have been 0 to 15 degrees



Search InspectApedia for

Window Condensation: Cause, Cure, Prevention, Resistance Ratings

and you can read details about the problem of window condensation. Indeed in very cold weather condensation may freeze on window glass.

You might want to check indoor humidity levels - Our article

What indoor humidity should we maintain in order to avoid a condensation, mold, or dust mite problem?

describes how to set the indoor humidity level - and what targets we seek.

It's less common to see condensate and freezing on double-glazed windows unless there is an air leak or the glass has lost its insulating value, OR when the indoor humidity is a bit high.

Keep us posted. What you find will help other readers.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 30, 2013) Matt Falk Aire Serv said:

I am trying to determine the age of a Moncrief furnace made by the Henry Furnace Company Model L-95 Series 4. There is no serial #. It is maroon with chrome trim


Matt, chances are your Moncrief furnace dates from the 1950's. Details are in the FAQS in our Age of Heating Systems article found by searching InspectApedia for

How to Determine the Age & Life Expectancy of Heating Boilers & Furnaces

Reader Question / Comment:

Kate G from Electrical Engineering Schools,

Our spam filter does not permit posting comments with links - so yours didn't appear.
But if your schools organization wants to exchange links just search InspectApedia for

How to be Listed in our Online Directories of Consultants & Expert Services

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 20, 2013) Ron Olsen said:

I live in St Paul,MN- where do i find a qualified technician to look at our grinder pump?
My sewage ejector pump pit smells.

It has been caulked extensively to seal in smells, but the basement (and particularly the closet where the pit is located) has a constant smell. I wonder if there is some sort of chemical I can flush down the toilet that feeds the pit to suppress the smell? It is tied to a sewer system, not septic tank. Thanks.



I'd call some local plumbers to find out who has experience installing and repairing grinder pumps.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 18, 2013) Heather Curtis said:

I currently bought a new gas stove that had to be converted to LP. Before and after the convert We continue to smell, on and off, what smells like, well, death, My husband asked me if I was cooking broccoli one day. It's not as bad as it was at first but WOW, it can knock me over at times.

What could it be? Unable to remove the top of this particular stove. Should I have the stove checked out or replaced (still in warranty)? Could it be a leak we are not finding? So glad I found this site it has helped me tremendously with my well and septic. Thank You Heather C


You can ask your installer or an independent expert who has the proper equipment to check for a gas leak.

To start, shut off gas to the appliance immediately. If the smel
Stops that should tell us something.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Mar 15, 2013) jorge said:

I need a contractor for sink hole my house as soon as possible thank you call Me 484 505 6661



Policy on Purchase Orders - Reply from about your request for product or service purchase

Sorry, but we cannot provide the product or service that you asked about.

We do not sell anything.

InspectAPedia provides building and environmental diagnostic and repair information.

In order to absolutely assure our readers that we write and report without bias we do not sell any products nor do we have any business or financial relationships that could create such conflicts of interest.

InspectAPedia is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information for the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website. We very much welcome critique, questions, or content suggestions for our web articles.

Website content contributors, even if it's just a small correction, are cited, quoted, and linked-to from the appropriate additional web pages and articles - which benefits us both. Working together and exchanging information makes us better informed than any individual can be working alone.

Reader Question / Comment: buzzing triple aquastat R8148G

(Mar 5, 2013) Charlie said:

My oil burner will not always start and the honeywell R8184G buzzes. If I tap it, the burner will usually start. The R8184G was replaced but the same thing still happens. The triple aquastat appears to be working properly. What is causing this problem?


Charlie a buzzing aquast is usually a bad relay.

Reader Question / Comment:

Hi there

I have a burnham seriese 2 model 204NCL LEI223 CGA 4.9.1969 boiler.

Problems: No heat out of one zone- all baseboards cold

So far
Checked thermostats- all work and valves make noise when turned up, switches in each zone make contact.
Took head of and verified that valve body turns loosely.

Gauge reads 192 degreess and at 18 psi

Question: when thermostat calls for heat and switch makes contact, how long does furnace remain on. When calling for heat it
only stayed on for a few minutes- 5 minutes. Is this normal?

Question: recirculation pump- comes on approximately every two - three minutes and stays on for 8 seconds, cycles through again

Is this normal?

4 zone system

one upstairs- 3 bedrooms
one upstairs- living room and dining room

one downstairs- west
one downstairs- east

all eat baseboards cold ( checked with infrared )

Question: if all thermostats are on shouldn't the furnace burners be on for quite a while until all pipes heat up?

Question: If i close all thermostats, and turn one one, how soon will it call for heat ( i.e. ) should the burners fire up
and stay on until temperature is reached.

Main Problem: east downstairs, pipe is cold above zone valve, all baseboards are cold?

I have included a diagram, if i need to shut down boiler in order to get water into it or reset system could you show me using hte diagram how i would do that

John andrews

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 23, 2013) Marie said:

The piping runs from front to back of the house, the ABS was installed in the 1990's. I want to get it changed to PVC. How much could the cost be approximatly ? Its a gas water heater. Thank you so much.
(runs about 50 feet)

Reader Question / Comment:

(Feb 5, 2013) bergerddl said:

replacing a 25 yr old delta waste trtment plant and would like to know which would be a good replacement? stay with same or is there a better one?

Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 27, 2013) ellie said:

we moved into a flat 6 months ago which already had alot of mold on windows and walls but the last month it has got really bad its on all windows of flat, 2 walls of mail bedroom (REALLY BAD)
and is also on sons window i am getting really worried as dont no if it can affect my 1yr old son it makes all our bedding damp.

i have tried a lot of hings people have recommended what to do now?



Without knowing the extent of both visible and possible hidden indoor mold reservoirs in your home, one can't give detailed guidance about "what to do now" - but some general advice would be to STOP spending any significant money before a competent, unbiased professional has inspected the building, described the extent of cleanup needed, and diagnosed the cause of an indoor mold problem.

For help in deciding if hiring an expert is cost-justified, search InspectApedia for "When to Hire a Mold Expert"

Also search InspectApedia for "Indoor Mold or Other Hazards: Advice to Renters"

Reader Question / Comment: will the Sperry VC61000 test 240V, DCV and is it safe for worksites?

(Jan 23, 2013) vincemedlik said:

does the sperry vc61000 voltage continuity testertest 240 volts as well as dc voltsand does it meet the safety standards for test equipment to be used on the work site


Vince: Sperry does an excellent job at their website of giving the specifications for their various test instruments; some confusion may arise when you look at VOM or DVM specs at a vendor site as they just give the highlights from the instrument's specs.

Yes this instrument covers a wide range of voltages including 240V: here is an excerpt from Sperry

VC61000 Volt Check™ Voltage-Continuity Tester

Multi-function tool indicates voltage level, tests continuity, and includes non-contact AC voltage detection.

Circuit Alert non-contact AC voltage detection in tip (50-600V AC)
24-600V AC; 6-220V DC with polarity indication
"Smart Meter Technology" automatically selects voltage or continuity test; No adjustment dials or range selection necessary
Magnetic back attaches to electrical panels for "hands-free" operation
Snap-in leads are spaced to fit a standard outlet for "hands-free" operation
36" Sta-Flex cold weather leads with strain reliefs
Integrated probe storage
Operates from (3) AAA batteries

VC61000 Range
Contact AC Voltage 24-600V
Non-Contact DC Voltage 50-600V
DC Voltage 6-220V
Frequency 50-60Hz
CAT Rating III 1000V, IV 600

Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 23, 2013) steve said:

have a honeywell L4064 switch. Burner fires, I can see the little Tabs moving on the switch ( with the cover off of course)as the temp. goes up, but no fan, then the burner shuts off like it should after about 5 minutes or so.

I hand spun the squirl cage to make sure it was not bound up, it appears to be fine. Also pushed and pulled the little white button but still no fan. Do i need to replace the L4060 ? Thanks


it sounds as if your fan switch is not turning on the fan,or there is a bad fan motor; check those first.

Reader Question / Comment: solved humming air conditioner

(Jan 22, 2013) Dennis said:

Thought I will share my experience, it may help someone else out there with a similar aircon problem.

Had a new carrier unit installed, but the outside unit was very noisy. The humming coming from it, could be heard 10 meters away in other parts of the house during the day. I eventually inspected the problem myself, and found it was the casing of the unit.

One pipe from the compressor was touching the insulation which in turn touched the casing, amplifying the humming. Move the compressor a little, and had thin foam strips put on the casing were everything bolts together. Problem resolved.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 17, 2013) Peter Bookholt said:

I have a building that is 50+ years old. It as the original roof on it. The roof is a corrugated metal roof panel with a fiber type coating with an aluminum coating over that. Is this fiber materal asbestos containing and what is the name of the panel?

Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 15, 2013) ann said:

in april we had problem with piece of limb within our sewer pipe right outside of the back door sewer line a plumber could not fix it and the county came and said that since we had never had any work done they put a large black box in our front yard and corrected the stoppage problem

but a bigger problem has come up we have lived in this house since 1968 and have never seen a bug except ants and now we have large water bugs in our house and have no idea where they are coming from we are contracting an exterminator(even though I don't know who will actually ck under the house for openings)


Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 10, 2013) Trish Mast said:

How can one tell if a 30 year old wood perserved foundation is good. The basment is completely finished.No signs of water damage and most wall look fine. Wall possibly bowing in area of the laundry room/ area/west/north/corner and furance room next to it in the basement area that is half way out of the ground.Considered a 3 level split.
Who in the Calgary area could inspected this type of foundation?
Are there any other steps one should take to insure a good foundation.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Jan 8, 2013) Jim Engel said:

Does anyone make a hot air furnace control with circuits to drop out on too cold or drop out on too hot? I have a gas/bonnet switch that has adjustable cams and rollers, BUT it is mounted outside in the weather and gets to working poorly/sticking. This is on an outside wood furnace set in a small room and house air flows into and out. I have considered reed switch/magnets (wide dead zone), Hall transistors (better?), and optoisolator/vane (get dirty) systems.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Dec 14, 2012) Robert said:

Hey Gang.
As a proffesion I have worked in the electrical trade for over 25 years most has been in the field as a service Tech. After all that I have seen with the FPE products there is no way I would ever live in a house or allow any of my children to own a home with out removing the FPE panel. it's like playing Russian roulette with your life. Most people make the assumption because they have never had a problem that the danger doesn't exist. This is also coupled with the problem of electrical contractors having the carsalsmen approach when talking to clients about these issues just makes them more gaurded about making the change rather than someone taking the time to help them understand the true dangers that they and their families are living under.



Thanks for your comment; I'll eventually move all of these over to the FPE hazard pages at InspectAPedia.

Indeed it's remarkable that on occasion we still come across someone who believes that if they haven't seen any problem so far, the FPE Stab-Lok equipment is just fine. I offer this analogy

You've been driving around your 15 year old Fiat since you bought it new, never having noticed that your seatbelt was cut through to a mere thread just above the floor level in the car. Someone sees that condition and tells you you don't actually have the protection a seat belt is intended to provide - in a crash you'll be hurt worse than otherwise as the seat belt will fail to protect you as intended.

You answer: well up to now the seat belt hasn't given me any trouble, so I guess it's just fine and I think I'll just leave it alone. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

But of course, it IS Broken.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Dec 8, 2012) Barb said:

Is there a list anywhere on exactly what fPE models are deemed hazards? I tend to doubt every model had this trip problem otherwise the company would not have been in business for as long as it had. I tend to think there's always a risk of something going wrong with a panel, regardless of make, so I see no point in replacing mine if there has never been an issue with this specific model. Kind of like car recalls - just because a manufacturer is recalling one of their makes/models due to an issue, it doesn't mean that all the models do in fact have the issue. Usually there's some determining factor like the year of the car or they know the exact seriel numbers involved. I'd rather not spend thousands to replace this house panel if the risk is slim.



The answer to your question is in the research, history and recommendations on FPE stab-lok equipment.

All of the residential FPE Stab-Lok panels.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Nov 28, 2012) Tom said:

Hi Dan,
Do you have an knowledge of Selkirk Metalbestos flue piping containing asbestos? I read on the site that asbestos was one of the original insulating materials used between the pipes, though I also read somewhere that Selkirk has never used asbestos in their flues. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Reader Question / Comment:

(Nov 27, 2012) Don Noone said:

A friend of mine has added on to his house, He wants to install a new septic system for that end of the house. A shower, stool, sink and washer will be on that system. He wants to put in 1,500 gal tank,or 1,000 gal.How many feet of laterials would he need? Also can you put the tank 75 feet from the house and then the laterials?




Reader Question / Comment:

(Oct 18, 2012) GoTimothy said:


I discovered asbestos floor tiles in the basement of my townhouse. There was a half used box of excess tiles made by Kentile Floors Incorporated out of Chicago, IL 60632 BEAVSHARD Willow 580. If you would like I can send you some pictures of the box and the tiles. Let me know where to upload or send them. The tiles have a identification number 2N263A on the box. I would like to know the percentage of asbestos in them if anyone knows anything about them.



We would much appreciate seeing photos you have of Kentiles, including both the tile face, back, and any packaging - that would be of great use to other readers.

If you would like to send a tile sample to our lab, I'll obtain the asbestos percentages at no cost to you - but unfortunately I won't be able to perform that work before next January as our entire forensic lab is on assignment out of the U.S. until then. Or you can send a small tile sample to any certified asbestos testing lab - the cost is typically around $50. U.S.

You can use the CONTACT US link found at the top or bottom of any of InspectApedia web page for our mailing address or for an email address to send us photos.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Oct 12, 2012) John Kyle said:

I'm looking for information on existing interior slabs on grade at least ten years old with dry sound sub-grade conditions. What is their susceptability to movement at control joints if any?
I'm putting resilient floor over the entire slab and am a little concerned on how to treat the slab joints.

Reader Question / Comment: respects unbiased information on mold

(Oct 5, 2012) Sandie said:

I really respect your unbiased, factual discussion on mold. I have some gray mold patches on attic rafters, w/o evidence of moisture, and open soffits. Looks like it may be a typical okay mold, but would like unbiased opinion on tape testing. Do you still do that (for fee, of course)? Know there are many charlatans who love to frighten for $$$$. And since there are a few patches only, don't intend to do air sampling. Do you still test the tape samples, for a fee? I looked at the alternatives on your list, but not sure if any of them do tape tests, and at what reputability. Thank you!

Reader Question / Comment:

(Sept 21, 2012) Debi said:

I need some help here...I purchased my condo 6 years ago in June - its a 3 story walk up and I have the top floor. About a year or so later I noticed the beginnings of what you call "ghosting" on my ceiling (my roof is flat and there is no crawl space in between the ceiling and the roof). A few months later...the studs and nails began to appear every 16" through the drywall on only the exterior walls.

I had an adjustor come out and he suggested it was due to "excessive candle burning". I disagreed as I've always burned candles and have never - ever - had this problem in any of my homes.

I then had a fire restoration company come out and their theory was that a fire retardent piece of material had burned slightly on the edges from my water heater and that then was dispensed through my air duct system, thus causing the problem.

So, I kiltz'd the ceiling/walls and low and was back in a matter of months. A friend of mine just sent me your site and this absolutely confirms what I didn't know. I had a 1 x 2' hole cut in my dry wall to see what was happening from behind the drywall. Evidently, the builder only put in 1-1.5" of insolation and it appears that there is no escapement between the outer brick wall and the cinderblock. I had a lab come in a few weeks ago and they tested the area and it came back with 'claudasporium' which is a fungus.

This makes sense then why my 3-1/2 year old son is constantly having respitory issues (and cold like syptoms which is indicative of this fungus)...chronically.
So, now that I know what it is...and most likely where the problem has occurred...what do I do now and who is going to pay for this? The building is 13 years old so I'm certain that I can't go back to the builder...but how could the City of Chicago allow this to pass code under this poor workmanship? I'm a single mom and don't have disposable income and didn't sign up for this...I need to know how to proceed? Would my homeowners insurance cover this? Would the association? Please help!



The effect of burning candles on a building interior will vary among buildings depending on moisture levels, air movement, structure, insulation, ventilation, and lots of other factors. As will the effects of other dirt, soot, or thermal tracking marks.

Search InspectAPedia for "thermal tracking" and you'll find a complete diagnostic and action guide.

Reader remark:

Thank you I will do that - I appreciate your help. Just hope I can find a resolution. Did I mention that these tracking marks only appear on the exterior walls and ceiling? So, it can'd be from excessive candle burning (plus the lab test didn't detect soot).

Reader Question / Comment:

(Sept 21, 2012) cindy said:

My house smells, not like sewer gas or mold. Ripped out carpet, kilzed sub floors, painted walls, cleaned from top to bottom, sent my dog to live with my daughter and had vents and furnace professionally cleaned.
Help!!! Please, I keep spending money, feel like I'm spinning my wheels and accomplishing nothing. This has been going on for a year...

Reader Question / Comment:

(Sept 7, 2012) Erika Reyna said:


I'm interested in learning about the advertising opportunities on your site. Is there an opportunity to advertiser via banners or textlinks (besides the Google Adwords feed)? Is there a media kit available for review? Thank you in advance for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.



Erika, thank you for your interest in advertising on the website.

With respect, in order to preserve absolute confidence by our readers that we have no business relationship with any company or product discussed at InspectApedia, we do not accept direct advertising. The only ads that appear at our website are placed *indirectly* through Google's AdSense program.

You may, of course, advertise through that company and can request that Google target our website for your ads.

On our home page you will find at Continue Reading a link titled ADVERTISING POLICY that explains our policies in detail.

Reader Question / Comment: what's on my skin

(Sept 5, 2012) chad m griffith said:

i want to no what's on my skin


Chad, start with your doctor who may refer you to a dermatologist. Also search InspectAPedia for "Morgellon's Disease"

Please see Morgellons Syndrome at

Reader Question / Comment:

(Sept 5, 2012) John said:

The question was asked, should the draft reg be open when the heating unit is not being used? The answer "yes" was given, but I have a further question concerning the closure of the draft reg. If the draft reg is closed during the 'off' time of the furnace - the air will be taken through the burner and through the boiler which in effect will be wasting heat.

In other words,instead of retaining the heat in the boiler/furnace, it will be sent up the stack. When compared to the automatic 'shut-off' controled damper, this condition would be redundant. However, 'If' the regulator is set to the furnace firing and the draft has been set, I would want to maintain that setting or I would be adjusting the regulator at the beginning of the heating season. I can see the importance of the automatic shut-off damper along with the draft regulator. Myself, I would want to retain the heat in the unit before sending it up the stack.



The draft regulator might be open when a heating appliance is not in use simply because of updrafts from the building interior through the flue to outdoors. In winter especially, that condition can also occur even if the damper is properly adjusted, and in that case it represents building heat loss - which is why people might install an automatic damper in the flue.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Sept 1, 2012) Colton said:

I live in northern New york and my dug well went dry but there's absolutely no place i can find that will re fill it for me and my family, because the fact that we live on a corner and most of the place's that do water hauling use lake and river water (as in contaminated water) and u can get a fine for putting contaminated water in well's up here.

Me and my family are, and have tried just about anything and winter is right around the corner. We've resorted to using our neighbors hose but we can only use it for about a hour or so or else there pump will burn up like ours did. If there is any idea's or ways of helping us solve our problem it would be greatly appreciated i have a big family and we need our water.

And if possible please give us help/ideas on how to re fill it without having to drill it down more. Thank you vary much for your time me and my family greatly appreciate it.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 31, 2012) joe said:

every time we turn the water on in the house we hear this howling sound

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 30, 2012) Marco said:

thanks for your info, I took on the job to fix water pump on/off cycle for the first time ever
system now working as it should, you have saved me money, and given me a new skill
Thanks for taking your time to help others help themselves

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 30, 2012) Sewer gas found from cracked dra said:

The base of the house's main drain pipe, under the house, at ground level in the crawlspace was cracked. It was epoxied. The symptoms were gaseous smoky acrid burning sensation, that smelled like old sweat socks. Never smelled like Methane. Filled the house from the ground floor near the bathroom into the bedroom ONLY at night from about 1am to 5am.

Very strong smell, and hard to breathe. Went on for 9 weeks, until we discovered the source. Plumbers did not find it, and they snaked all the drains, and may have made it worse.... Still waiting to see if the gas returns tonight....

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 29, 2012) Mohamed al lababidi said:

V My AC split unit stop working ,because the terminal wires connecting the compressor to the capacitor always burn this happen several times ,and the remedy was to replaced the burned wires,please can you advise what the reason that keep the terminal wires burn, the compressor is newly installed,


(Aug 30, 2012) Anonymous said:

Mohamed al lababidi we answered your question where you first posted it at How to Diagnose a Burned-out Air Conditioning Compressor

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 20, 2012) Marvin said:

I’m a BPI certified specialist and I came across a situation that I need assistance, on a 2 story ranch which is having roofing problem. The roof is warping and the shingles look like they are about to fall off. I conclude that this is due to no air ventilation in the attic but I soon realized that there is no attic and the have cathedral ceilings on the whole second floor.

Which would make sense, But I’m trying to remedy this issue, I know they need a new roof and the roof needs ventilation but I was thinking of dense packing the attic with cellulose insulation and installing windwash baffles. But it would be difficult because the underside of this is wood panels that are visible from the inside. Please respond promptly, as I need to get back to the homeowner. Thank you.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 20, 2012) Plumb-Dumb said:

We had a pinhole leak in a 1 1/4 copper well-tank tee. The plumber patched the leak and will return to clean & replace the damaged tee with slip coupling. The plumber then told me I also need a new well tank because the bladder is bad (holding water inside). Is this unusual? We had no water or water pressure problems prior to the pin=hole leak. The tank is approximately 15 years old. Thank you for any help :)

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 20, 2012) Helen said:

I am renting in a 1920's former light industrial building - a "loft", in NYC. The building has had leaking issues and is and about to undergo complete waterproofing and window replacement.
My concern is what seems to be mold, fungi, rot inside our unit. I don't know whether I am being a fraidy-cat or if what I see and smell is a legit concern.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 18, 2012) Melanie Dunn said:

Under your sites question from public:
Question: can you tell us what the attached air conditioner sound recording means
your answer included the affirmative to not being able to replace with R22- not so the government agency decided during these economic times,

e the industry is replacing the r22 units by filling with nitrogen and sending along the R22 to fill once installed.

The agancy said not a loophole, but a reality for these hard economic times. Helping consumers to ease thru this R22 phase-out, unlike the previous phase-out in 2007. I am going with this approach as the building the unit is servicing won't make it to 2030.

Reader Question / Comment:

(Aug 18, 2012) George Gean said:

I have a white water filter that will turn black in two or thure days I get what looks like back sand the water has a bad smell and don tast good can you help as to what it is?

Reader Question / Comment:

(May 8, 2012) Carlton Cummins said:

I have a Mexican septic system, four concrete sides and a concrete top with open bottom that goes into sand. We use the bare minimum of toilet paper and our washer and showers go into it, no garbage disposal or DW. It is approximately 2500 gallons and we use septic bacteria every other month. There are 2 people in the house so how long will it last before I might have problems and need to be pumped?


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